Burning Desire to Share

2357 replies [Last post]

First, thanks for sharing with us. It's not easy. I need to be reminded what it feels like to be in your shoes, so you are helping me and others. I think fear is a natural response to your difficulties and I hope both end soon. It isn't unusual to find people miserable in mansions and happy in halfway houses. The program of recovery spelled out in "Alcoholics Anonymous" altered my attitude to enable me to find the good in difficulties. Can you honestly look at that sign on the meeting room wall and say that AA failed you the first time?

Joined: 2013-09-05
Grapevine quote, 2/26/14

"I was told by a sober member of AA that if I wanted to stay sober I would need to do three things: get a sobriety date and don't change it, get a sponsor, and get a home group."
I'm hopelessly confused and hope someone can help me out. In my years of AA membership I have used the second, third and fourth editions of the Big Book, have worn out a few copies of the 12&12, and have lost or given away a few copies of "As Bill Sees It". I have searched on line and asked dozens of long time members, and cannot get an answer to my question, Where in our AA literature does it say we cannot get sober without a sponsor and a home group?
I was told many years ago I should put my faith in some kind of Power greater than myself. All my Big Books say,
"But there is One who has all power - that One is God. May you find Him now." (page 59)
"No human power could have relieved our alcoholism." (page 60)

Let's not omit the word "Probably" when quoting page 60

You wrote, "No human power could have relieved our alcoholism." This is commonly misquoted in the rooms.
The correct quote is "That PROBABLY no human power..." People who use it conveniently leave out the word "PROBABLY." This is too much of an important word to omit because without it we would be a religious program. Let's quote AA correctly and not take AA into our own hands. This word widens Bill W.'s hoop and permits the agnostic or atheist member the right to remain a non-believer or a not-sure if that is their choice. I have known people in my group who rely on human power and they seem to be just as joyful as the next person or myself.

RE: "probably"

Thanks for paying close attention to detail. Leaving out the word "probably", closes the door for far too many alcoholics. We have dropped the word and have dropped
the ball. We have become known as a strange religion.
Another phrase "We are not a glum lot" is used to justify
the incessant chanting. Being serious and reverent does
not make us a glum lot. Chanting makes us look like a
religion or cult. ANONYMOUS


God 1st 4 me

sponsor & home group

Did the useful/helpful/hopeful experiences of AA members stop after publication of the big book or 12 x 12, or with Bill W's death? I absolutely believe that there is no wrong way to stay sober, and the most unhelpful thing I could have been told when I walked into the rooms a while back would have been that I had to get a sponsor, had to work the steps, had to find a god of my understanding. However, I have come to believe in the advice of Rumi: "It is necessary to have a guide for the spiritual journey. Choose a master, for without one this journey is full of trials, fears, and dangers. With no escort, you would be lost on a road you have already taken. Do not travel alone on the Path." Bill W considered Ebby to be his sponsor, but also obviously helped and was helped by Dr. Bob, and sought advice from Father Dowling. Basically, I can become "overcome by the spirit" and forget why I am on the Path, which is why I need someone, or several someones, to call me on my B.S. No god ever speaks to me directly, which is why I need the guide. But that is just my program at this moment in time.

re sponsorship

I don’t think I have ever read anything that says you must have a sponsor to stay sober, but lots that suggests it’s a good idea. Mostly from the 12x12, see below.
... advisers the guidance they feel they have ... 12&12 Step Five, p.60
It is worth noting that people of very high spiritual development almost always insist on checking with friends or spiritual advisers the guidance they feel they have received from God.

... sponsorship for ten newcomers, and was gently ... 12&12 Tradition Eight, p.168
Then we saw that if a hardworking secretary answered the phone dozens of times a day, listened to twenty wailing wives, arranged hospitalization and got sponsorship for ten newcomers, and was gently diplomatic with the irate drunk who complained about the job she was doing and how she was overpaid, then such a person could surely not be called a professional A.A.
1.... sponsors? 12&12 Step Twelve, p.112
Can we have the same kind of confidence and faith in these people who have been infected and sometimes crippled by our own illness that we have in our sponsors?

2.... sponsors come to the rescue. 12&12 Step Four, p.46
At this stage of the inventory proceedings, our sponsors come to the rescue.

3.... sponsors declared that we were the victims ... 12&12 Step One, p.22
Our sponsors declared that we were the victims of a mental obsession so subtly powerful that no amount of human willpower could break it.

4.... sponsors of those who feel they need ... 12&12 Step Four, p.46
The sponsors of those who feel they need no inventory are confronted with quite another problem.

5.... sponsors or spiritual advisers that we first ... 12&12 Step Five, p.58
Often it was while working on this Step with our sponsors or spiritual advisers that we first felt truly able to forgive others, no matter how deeply we felt they had wronged us.

6.... sponsors pointed out our increasing sensitivity to ... 12&12 Step One, p.22
Relentlessly deepening our dilemma, our sponsors pointed out our increasing sensitivity to alcohol -- an allergy, they called it.

... sponsor already has the advantage of knowing ... 12&12 Step Five, p.61
Besides, your sponsor already has the advantage of knowing something about your case.

2.... sponsor, but not necessarily so. 12&12 Step Five, p.61
This person may turn out to be one's sponsor, but not necessarily so.

3.... sponsor continues, "Take, for example, my own ... 12&12 Step Two, p.26
The sponsor continues, "Take, for example, my own case.

4.... sponsor's ear alone. 12&12 Tradition Twelve, p.185
Enthusiastic over the spectacular recovery of a brother alcoholic, we'd sometimes discuss those intimate and harrowing aspects of his case meant for his sponsor's ear alone.

5.... sponsor, "is a very good question indeed. 12&12 Step Two, p.26
"That," agrees the sponsor, "is a very good question indeed.

6.... sponsor or spiritual adviser, earnestly asking God's ... 12&12 Step Nine, p.86
Do we lay the matter before our sponsor or spiritual adviser, earnestly asking God's help and guidance -- meanwhile resolving to do the right thing when it becomes clear, cost what it may?

7.... sponsor or spiritual adviser, we make a ... 12&12 Step Ten, p.89
Then there are those occasions when alone, or in the company of our sponsor or spiritual adviser, we make a careful review of our progress since the last time.

8.... sponsor points out that our friend's life ... 12&12 Step Three, p.39
Of course the sponsor points out that our friend's life is still unmanageable even though he is sober, that after all, only a bare start on A.A.'s program has been made.

9.... sponsor probably points out that the newcomer ... 12&12 Step Four, p.46
The sponsor probably points out that the newcomer has some assets which can be noted along with his liabilities.

10.... sponsor probably says, "Take it easy. 12&12 Step Two, p.26
His sponsor probably says, "Take it easy.

11.... sponsor promptly proves by talking freely and ... 12&12 Step Four, p.46
This the sponsor promptly proves by talking freely and easily, and without exhibitionism, about his own defects, past and present.

12.... sponsor sold me one idea, and that ... 12&12 Tradition Five, p.154
Years later, this tough Irish customer liked to say, "My sponsor sold me one idea, and that was sobriety.

13.... sponsor usually laughs. 12&12 Step Two, p.26
At this juncture, his A.A. sponsor usually laughs.

... adviser. BB How It Works, p.63
We found it very desirable to take this spiritual step with an understanding person, such as our wife, best friend, or spiritual adviser.

Joined: 2013-09-05
Re: re sponsorship

"I don’t think I have ever read anything that says you must have a sponsor to stay sober, but lots that suggests it’s a good idea. Mostly from the 12x12, see below."
You've given a lot of quotes without answering my question so I'll repeat it. Where does it say in our literature that we can't get sober unless we get a aponsor and a home group?
The late Chuck C. states in "A New Pair of Glasses" that he never had a sponsor. He died with 38 years sobriety. I have a number of friends with 20+ years who have never had a sponsor. I was on active duty in the Navy when I got sober and in my first two years the longest time I spent in one place was ten months aboard ship in the Pacific. I wasn't any place long enough to get a sponsor or home group. In fact, for a good part of those two years I wasn't any place that had a home group. Last July I had my 42nd AA birthday.
That does not mean I'm anti-sponsorship. I believe sponsorship is important for both the sponsor and the pigeon, but I don't think any alcoholic has the right to tell another alcoholic he must or must not do something. To quote "A New Pair of Glasses" again, "In AA we share, we don't tell."
Now back to your first sentence, two things jumped out at me. First, you haven't been avble to find the answer to my question, either. And second, if the 'suggestions' concerning sponsorship are so important, why don't we put the same importance on the 'suggested' twelve steps?

re sponsorship

The 20 quotes from the 12x12 are where sponsorship is discussed. I thought you might like to read up on what your missing if you don’t have a sponsor. You probably won’t find anything that says you must find a sponsor, just lots of how good it is to have one. That is the answer to your question, no requirement, just suggestions.
I don’t know for sure about chuck c having a sponsor, but I have heard speakers who he sponsored that were glad he sponsored them, just listen to Johnny H. After listening to tapes of chuck and johnny, I would have to say chuck did a lot of telling. You can get an earful at xaspeakers.com. they have the talk chuck c did that they wrote “a new pair of glasses” from.
I think being sober in AA is a combination of experiences. Few stay sober for long without working the steps, however some do. Few stay sober without going to a regular home group meeting, however some do. Few stay sober without a sponsor to lead the way, however some do. Many stay sober by working the steps, home group membership, and sponsorship. You may be able to get by with 2 out of 3. My life is important to me, that’s why I’m using all three. Steps, home group, and sponsorship.

Joined: 2013-09-05

You still haven't addressed my question so I'll try again:
Where in our AA literature does it say we cannot get sober without a sponsor and a home group? To put it another way, Where does the AA literature tell us we MUST have a sponsor?
More to my point, where are we told (In AA literature) that we need a sponsor to explain the Big Book to us? That we must let a sponsor make all our decisions for us? Or that each and every alcoholic who comes through the doors of AA is too stupid or brain damaged to get sober without a sponsor?

This is to important to leave to trial and error

I had to be stuburn my whole life and learn the hard way one mistake at a time. I even did it with AA years ago and never asked for help and I made mistakes and relapsed. This time I decided to get a sponsor and learn from him and his mistakes and his sponsors mistakes rather then having to make them on my own,many minds are greater then one no matter how smart you are. I also believe having to swallow your pride and ask for help is a big step in EGO reduction and isn't this what it is all about. No where does this program tell you, you have to do anything the suggestions will just increase your odds.

Joined: 2012-05-30
re nodius

nothing says you must get a sponsor. there are 103 "must" in the big book, but nothing about a sponsor. Sounds like you have had or know somebody that had a dominating sponsor. my sponsor simply took me through the steps in the big book. he said the book would protect me from him and that If i couldn't reconcile what he said with AA liturature to disregard.
the grapevine has a nice booklet of stories on sponsorship along with AA's pamphlet questions and answers on sponsorship.
As far as being too brain damaged or stupid to get sober without a sponsor, for myself, yes. If I knew how to be sober and happy on my own, I wouldn't need AA. I could share my opinion on experiences I have never had. too me sponsorship is mutual. we share our 5th steps with each other, attend the same homegroup, go to roundups, even fish and workout together.
the person who really benefits from the relationship is the sponsor. nothing gets you current better than a sponsee who is ambitious about the program.
speaking of Chuck C, Saturday a sponsee and I drove 50 miles to hear clancy i, one of chuck c sponsees. we had a good time, enjoyed some fellowship, ate great pizza in a place that happened to also be a bar and drove 50 miles home. we have both recovered and where spiritually fit so we can go anywhere and do anything as long as we are spiritually fit.
when I think of the relationship ive had with my sponsor over the years, I feel sorry for you. there is one person on this planet that knows everything about me, and he still loves me. you sound like you could use a little unconditional love.

re sponsorship

If someone gives you an unqualified answer that you want to hear, exactly what are going to do with that precious information?


I don't think you are confused at all. I think you know as well as anyone that a single member of AA is capable of saying absolutely anything. We see examples here frequently. Have a great day.

RE: Grapevine quote 2/26/14

To stay sober you would need a fixed sobriety date. None
of these are in any way requirements for A.A membership The only requirement... I personally have
never had a sponsor. by today's AA standard. I have had numerous home groups. I have
held the same sobriety date since 08 Feb 1970.
All of my Big Books read the same, except for the
stories. I firmly believe that we ought to have stayed
with the Third Edition.
Bill wrote in AACA that where to place How It Works
in the book "worried the life out of me". He decided
to place it exactly where he placed it. IMO, that is where
it belongs. This chapter contains the truth, but must
be offered to other alcoholic sufferers with an equal
amount of Grace. There has to be a balance, to make the
message palliative to those approaching us.
We offer the solution in a suggestive manner.
A suggestion is different from a request or a demand,
or directions.
Bill wrote plainly that "our Book is meant to be
suggestive only. We realize that we only know a little".
Too many A.A. members are satisfied with "a little".
There are thirty more years of experience and knowledge
available. Bill did not end it in 1939.
Thanks for not being an AA dropout. So many have
just walked away. I decided to stay. Bob H. Seymour, Ct.

Indebted to AA for Leading Me Back to Faith

There’s a myth in the rooms that suffering makes us deep and it predisposes us to be more spiritual and to say big things. Somehow it builds character and is leads us to think we are more celestial than religious people because we have been there in the fire. It's not that way in real life. Suffering can make us shallow, arrogant, greedy and opaque. Spiritual posturing is not the same thing as actually being spiritual. Of course it’s easy to pose than to do the actual work. After several years in AA, I decided to return to the Catholic Church and attend mass regularly as a counterpart to my recovery. To think that religious people are not spiritual and that they are less than are just ridiculous viewpoints. It’s difficult to sit through AA meetings when insults and jokes are thrown at organized religion. Take for instance this common assertion; “Religion is for people trying to stay out of hell and spirituality is for people who have been there” People continually pass on that pompous expression without questioning the validity of it. Just look around the world and tell me religious people have not suffered or have been in hell. Suffering is not a requirement for spirituality and there is no hierarchical system of spiritual organization. Whether a person is religious, atheist or in between, spirituality transcends “pecking orders” and resides in everyone equally waiting to be awakened if needed. Are there other members who feel uncomfortable with religion bashing during meetings? I am indebted to AA mightily because it provided me the time and space to rediscover a faith as I eventually segued from AA to the church. I also discovered that not all AA members find a need to disrespect religion because they have the intelligence to understand that AA borrowed ideas from various religious systems. Thanks AA

re: AA leading back to faith

While I consider myself a militant agnostic, I agree with you that there is a lot of intolerance in AA - against those who have a faith that includes an organized religion or religious denomination, as well as folks like me. The "principles before personalities" idea applies equally to organized religions, where it is too common to equate the messenger with the message. I bristle when people insist that the Big Book was divinely inspired. It was in the sense that all writings are (including "The Communist Manifesto" and "A Study in Communism," to take two extremes), but is of course of human construction and therefore limited by its author's experiences and prejudices. Bill humbly noted "we know only a little - more will be revealed." I have come to respect those who have returned to the faith of their youth as you have, which most spiritual leaders recommend over a smorgasbord approach, which I fall victim to. In the end, we all need an open mind about all things, except of course about the propriety of having a drink.

Opinions are just that opinions!

I've only been in AA for awhile but I've noticed a lot of people getting upset (resentments) about people expressing there OWN opinions. Just because someone says something doesn't make it wrong or right. Getting upset and judging someone for making a judgement is like the old saying two wrongs don't make a right. I just try to be confident in my own beliefs I don't feel like I have to defend my religion. I just pray for them and love them that way I don't end up with resentments because we all no where that will lead me.

Opinions are not just opinions

I understand where you are coming from. It’s common to hear negative remarks towards agnostics, atheists and organized religion. This issue is should not be taken lightly and it is more severe than just someone expressing an opinion, especially when the majority of the group laughs. It hurts AA as a whole and makes us look bad. The Preamble states we share our experience, strength and hope. There is nothing that states “We share our opinions.” Opinions about outside issues have no place in the rooms and should not be tolerated because then the natural progression would lead to which opinions are acceptable and which are not acceptable and who would be in charge of this judgment. Criticizing religion, politics, race, gender or culture harms AA and makes us look like that annoying drunk at the other end of the bar that just won’t shut up. We do not want to give the wrong impression to the person who just walked through the door. I am certainly welcome to share what helps me get sober but, when I start joking about the way you get sober and making comments about your God or political party then there is going to be a problem. We shouldn’t be naïve about this but, instead be more responsible and sensitive when sharing around the table or from the podium.

Yes they are just opinions

But you hit the nail on the head. It's the laughing that's the problem it's a form of cross talk that encourages the person sharing. Cross talk needs to stop the negative and also the positive kind. The nodding of the head,the ya ya ya's the laughing just feeds into the person sharings EGO or miss directed opinions.There is a lot of sick people that's why there hear hopefully trying to get better. As far as criticizing a race or religion I would talk to the person after the meeting and voice my opinion on the matter. Or I would at the next meeting bring up the topic intolerance and voice my OWN OPINION. Which is love not hate.

RE: Opinions are just that opinions!

What is an opinion? I believe that the effectiveness of
Alcoholics Anonymous, in helping others to recover, has
diminished severely over the past two decades. If my
belief is supported by membership numbers developed by
our trusted servants, is it really just my opinion?
IMO, our failing is due to blunders we have made over
the past three decades. I saw, heard and participated in
most of those mistakes. I fought to keep the 24 hr. book
as part of the format. I loved that book and still do.
But today I understand why it was rejected and must be
removed from our AA rooms. Is that just my opinion or
does the fact that this book has been rejected by two
of our General Service Conferences make this more than
just an opinion.
I have come to appreciate "sharing sessions" where
each member has five minutes to voice an "opinion",
without fear of being judged or upsetting anyone.
In the A.A. meeting (official meeting) I try to share
from my own experience and of course strength and hope.
I believe that any discussion which may upset or offend
a newcomer ought to be avoided. ANONYMOUS

Tired of trying to be GOD

I was raised in a family that was strict atheist. It was driven in to me that people that believed in religion were brain washed and that the only will you needed was your own. For years my will run riot I tried to be god, I tried to control everyone and everything and when things didn't go my way I got upset. I thought I should be perfect and no one could live up to that standard. I think that might have been part of the reason I drank because I could never be happy it's exhausting trying to be god. I always new there was something missing and in AA I finally found it with my upbringing I was able to choose a higher power of my OWN and to change the things I can and give the rest to my higher power. Now I try to do his will not my own and I realize there is only ONE who is perfect and it sure isn't me. I've finally found piece of mind and serenity. Now I can only hope to carry the message of AA and to let people choose.

freedom to choose

THAT is very true, when I found the long term answer to a long term disease I was one that tried to live sober without believing in a power greater then me (GOD as I understand him today)and the beauty of the fellowship was, nobody told me 1 had to believe what they believed, but to find something that I believed! Today by the (GRACE OF GOD AS I UNDERSTAND HIM STEP 3), inspite of having many health issues that make it hard to go to meetings, or even speak in meetings, my desire to not drink has remained strong, as well as not drinking for today! I am one them old timers that even though I am not as active now I am grateful! To quote a phrase from a good friend;" I am not what I could be, not what I should be but I'm not what I used to be!

Confusing the Newcomers?

Hi, is there an agnostic or atheist pamphlet for the newcomer? My group doesn’t have one and many newcomers have asked. I’ve recommended The Agnostic Chapter but, they seem to believe it’s not helpful. Some have communicated to me that they are offended and it reads more like a conversion story. Some think AA = God. I’ve ensured them this is not true and our doors are open to anyone who has a desire to stop drinking. We do not force god, religion or spirituality on anyone and to us AA = Sobriety. I can only do so much but, it’s still confusing to the newcomer. It would be extremely helpful to them if we actually had a pamphlet stating it’s quite alright to remain agnostic or atheist in AA if they chose to do so. My experience is limited to prayer and footwork so that’s all I can share with them. At least some of them get the footwork part. The others’ seem combatant for now and I wonder if they are this way naturally or it is because we are setting them up to fail with a lack of clarification, which would be in conflict with our Preamble and the Responsibility Statement. Any thoughts?

Re: confusion

Jim B. was the early atheist in AA who was responsible for the qualifying language "as we understand god." In approximately 1969, the Grapevine published his story commemorating his 30 years of sobriety without belief in god. I found it helpful. I was also introduced a book by Laura S outlining a Buddhist approach to the steps. There are a couple of other in print as well. Most recently, a secular guide to recovery was made available through the AA Agnostica website, where I downloaded it to my Kindle. I highly recommend it for the god fearing as well as the godless.
Bill W's later writings show a lot more tolerance and maturity on spiritual matters than did his effort in the chapter "We Agnostics."

re jim b

I’m not so sure Jim B was sober 30 years with no belief in God. Please read some excerpts from his story, “the vicious cycle” in the big book.

“My brilliant agnosticism vanished, and I saw for the first time that those who really believed, or at least honestly tried to find a Power greater than themselves, were much more composed and contented than I had ever been, and they seemed to have a degree of happiness which I had never known.”

“Around this time our big A.A. book was being written and it all became much simpler; we had a
definite formula which some sixty of us agreed was the middle course for all alcoholics who wanted
sobriety, and that formula has not been changed one iota down through the years.”

“When I started to tell the boys how we did it in New York and all about the spiritual part of the program, I found they would not believe me unless I was practicing what I preached. Then I found that as I gave in to this spiritual or personality change I was getting a little more serenity.”

“And I still say that as long as I remember that January 8th in Washington, that is how long, by the grace of God as I understand Him, I will retain a happy sobriety.”
You can read more about Jim B in the 12x12 on pages 143-145. He is Ed in the 12x12. I have heard Jim B speak and have read about him in the big book and 12x12. After gathering all the information I would say Jim was against theology throughout his sobriety, not agnostic. How could he stay agnostic while his brilliant agnosticism vanished, giving in to the spiritual side of the program, working the program as written in the big book, practicing what he preached, and stating by the grace of God? Do agnostics say “By the grace of God as I understand Him”? No, they do not.

Jim B

The founding Jim B that I am familiar with lobbied for the words "as we understood him". He resisted the God business until he tried to start a new group in Philadelphia, early on. "When I started to tell the boys ...about the spiritual part of the program, I found that they would not believe me if unless I was practicing what I preached. Then when I found that as I gave in to spiritual or personality change, I was getting a little more serenity."

He closes his story crediting "God as I understand him" for maintaining a happy sobriety.

That doesn't sound like an atheist to me.

A person doesn't need to chase down a forty some year old Grapevine to find Jim's story. It's entitled the Vicious Cycle in the Big Book.

Mr 1969 Grapevine, looks like

Mr 1969 Grapevine, looks like you got tripped up again. Have you heard the suggestion "When you are trapped in a hole, first stop digging"?

Joined: 2013-01-08

Sounds like you are doing all you can.

Other than the Chapter to the Agnostic, I do not know of anything in AA literature that specifically addresses this issue. In my experience, the message in the BB and from members has always been pretty clear regarding god and HP. I learned that I was free to choose my own concept; and I did. No one in AA, including sponsors, has ever questioned my concept of a HP or tried to convince me I should believe differently. Nor have I done so to others.

Atheists and agnostics in our area started a group named "Atheists, Agnostics and All Others". The group is going strong and group members have been very active in service. You might search your local meeting schedule to see if such a group is available in your area.

Confusing the Newcomers?

You could suggest to the agnostic newcomers that they get a copy of the AA conference approved book Living Sober and use it. It's chock full of AA experience on how to live sober, without the emphasis on coming to believe in God that is in the Big Book. You could be up-front and honest that the 12 Steps and the Big Book do show a path to God. The Chapter to the Agnostic does try to convince the agnostic to believe in God. I am not surprised that they were offended when you directed them to that chapter, especially when they were seeking reassurance that they would not have to convert to a belief in God. Agnostics have always been welcome in AA, but please acknowledge to the agnostics that the 12 Step program is a God based program. If or when they are ready, the 12 Steps and the Big Book will be there for them. They can certainly work Step One and use the Living Sober book until they are ready to work the rest of the Steps. But they can take what they want and leave the rest until that day.

Joined: 2011-05-01
Confusing To Newcomers

I Have heard from AA & Big Book Historians that the Atheist & God talk isn't new and has been around since the writing of the Big Book and to please, quiet the Atheist crowd the We Agnostics chapter was put in the Big Book.
I think reading page 47 and the line "Choose your own conception of God/HP/Mother Nature or the AA group"
To me this is the beauty of the AA program, had AA been a Go to this church or adopt this belief I am not sure I would have made it.
I just Googled AA atheists and there are lists of meetings for just that belief.

Isn't it ironic that a belief that there is No God is in itself a belief in something?


No conflict

Perfectly understandable. They just want something called Alcoholics Anonymous to solve their alcohol problem but want the specifications rewritten to something completely different than what has been found to work.

There is no conflict. Simply tell them, if you have a desire to stop drinking, come in, sit down, drink coffee, put a dollar in the basket if you can afford it. Listen, share, read, whatever the format is for the meeting. If you don’t want to believe in God, don’t. If you don’t want to pray, don’t. Although I have never seen anyone need to do it in over thirty years, if someone tells you have to leave, point to tradition three and tell them you are a member and aren’t leaving. If they want to believe in something you don’t, extend the same courtesy to them that they have to you. If you feel uncomfortable with their beliefs and prayers, put on a pair of big boy pants and get over it. No one guaranteed me that I could change virtually everything in my life and be comfortable doing it.

If there is a pamphlet such as you describe it will be in the literature catalog at AA.org. If there isn’t, feel free to write one for them and post it here. I’d like to see what’s in it.

RE: Confusing the newcomer.

I believe that it is a conversion story. If we allow each
newcomer to choose without any pushing or prodding, many, if
not most, will become "converts". We prod and push new members out of our rooms by the demands we make of them.
It may take six months to achieve the spiritual awakening, which Bill W. experienced in his hospital bed.
The "quality" of the awakening doesn't appear to be
any different.
Telling a newcomer who may be truly agnostic or atheist,
they have to find God and find Him NOW, would be offensive,
especially when we have just read the preamble stating that
we are not allied with any sect. I know it reads: May you
find Him now. It sounds like a demand to me.
About four years ago an article "Without a Higher Power"
appeared in the AA Grapevine. With a little effort you
can find it. I believe you will find it helpful. ANONYMOUS

Singleness of Purpose

Read the singleness of purpose...

Singleness of purpose


Is anyone tired of hearing about drugs?

Is there anyone else tired of hearing about drugs in AA meetings? To me, all addictions are not the same. The cultures of alcohol, narcotics, food, sex or shopping are different.
Why not change the name to Addictions Anonymous then? I don’t want to hear chatter about dealers, diets, dopamine, Demerol, donuts, dollars or derrieres. I want to hear about what drunks have to say. Sometimes I’m sitting in a meeting and wonder if I walked into the wrong room. A few times I’ve gone through the whole meeting and not one person mentioned alcoholism. The meetings in my area have been run over by the drug crowd and the older generation alkies don’t feel safe. You don’t have to steal a lot crap to get a cheap bottle of wine. The criminal element drug addicts bring into the group cannot be taken lightly. I’d trust a drunk over a drug addict any day. Is anyone else tired too?


I was of the understanding AA was about finding are similarities not are differences. That we're supposed to love each other including are enemies. I find it distasteful when someone talks hate about one group of people, isn't that a form of racism. Someone that's an alcoholic and probably had to deal with the stigma of alcoholism should know better. If you can't say something nice then maybe you shouldn't say anything. I got addicted to pain killers that I was prescribed after an accident then relapsed and started drinking again after years of not drinking. So stop saying addicts are criminals. Alcohol or drugs are not the problem they are but a symptom. So this talk about alcohol or drugs is pointless. There are people that break the law that have never done drugs or drank. Spread love not hate.


I find AA much more helpful with my addiction...and if talking about drugs in AA keeps a person from going back "Out there" who are we to judge what substance is greater...Praise your higher power you have never had a drug problem...How many people do you know that have overdosed on alcohol? That being said not all drug addicts are thieves...I thought we were all here for the same reason? To get well by working steps...How judgemental...you should be ashamed and i reccomend calling your sponsor

Our Primary Purpose

Completely understand.
Had the same experience several times at several meetings. My group decided in a business meeting to read the blue card at the begining of every meeting. Alcohol is our problem. I have abused other things but never woke up having to have a pill, drug, food etc but woke up for years having to have a drink. Our primerary purpose says it clearly. Bring it to your groups attentionand remind them AA is here to save alcoholic and nothing else.Any departure from that is harmfull to the people and group. Although we may be cousins with those of other addictions AA is for alcoholice. The differance between the addact and alcoholic is night and day. We are just two different breads of cat.

Alcohol is a drug

Look at the definition of the word drug. I think alcohol would fall into that definition. So I think there's something else that's fuelling this ever lasting debate. Anyone have any opinions as to what it is.

re drug talk

We once had the same problem in the town I live in. For years the local rehab was sending everyone to AA on the theory that a drug is a drug. It’s taken a couple years and now the addicts have a respect for the AA meetings they attend and the alcoholics have respect for the local NA. We now work together but separately. We talk about only having to have a problem with alcohol to attend AA meetings that we don’t care what other problems you have and if you have other problems please attend a group that specifically addresses those problems. We read from the group and problems other than alcohol pamphlets so newcomers know that nonalcoholics are not to speak at our closed meetings and that a nonalcoholic cannot be an AA member. There were a few growing pains, but that’s mostly ironed out now. The groups that wanted to continue the alcoholic/ drug addict meetings have been removed from the AA meeting list and have been told they are not an AA group. Our formats for the AA meetings have been updated to keep everyone informed of the traditions. We even joke that it you have to put a dollar in the basket for every “and a” you have. You know, I am an alcoholic and a-drug addict/gambler/what ever.
Remember, if you don’t like the meetings you are going to, start your own.

RE: anyone else

Is anyone else tired too? If I did not enjoy time
spent in an AA room with my friends, I would just stop
attending. No one does a roll call. I believe that alcoholics, newcomers and old timers, drift away from
meetings you describe. I just do not identify with the
drug addict.
But don't fault the drug addict. We are the ones who
have welcomed them into our rooms. IMO, they have no
better place to go. Our own alcoholic members insist
that "a drug is a drug", and after all the solution
is the same i.e. the twelve steps.
The opinion seems to be that the solution to alcoholism
and drug addiction is the same Twelve Step Program. Our
fellowship has become a Twelve Step Program. A.A. does
not work very well as a Twelve Step Program. The trial
and error period is over. True, some alcoholics and addicts
recover in the "Program". Today's AA is a Program. The
AA of the seventies was a fellowship. Our preamble still
says that we are a fellowship. It took about 20
years for our fellowship to morph into a Twelve Step Program
The solution is to separate A.A. from N.A. and allow and
encourage the fellowships to work side by side. It will be
a long and difficult process, but to continue "status quo"
is just not acceptable. Our loved ones, addicts and alcoholics, are dying while we accept and rest on our
laurels. We must develop wisdom and courage. ANONYMOUS

in defense of drug addicts in AA

i'm a drug addict who was introduced to AA through a rehab program i attended. i identify myself as an alcoholic and when sharing say stuff in a way that if you didn't already know i was a heroin addict, you would just think i was talking about alcohol. THE MAIN REASON i stay in AA vs. NA or HA or any other (besides the fellowship i have in there with the people) is because of the literature. i'm what you might call a THUMPER but i don't like the fact that NA has their own book. to me , the book of Alcoholics Anonymous is THE answer. its not hard to relate anything in there to heroin addiction. to me, reading the basic text of NA is like reading a version of the BIBLE written by somebody else, that basically says the same thing. i guess you can, but WHY? just my 2 cents. god bless!

Drug Addicts in AA

"Acceptance is the answer" was titled "Dr. Addict Alcoholic" in the 3rd Edition Book.
See Grapevine July 1995 for interview with "Dr. Paul", the author;
Good stuff.
More will be revealed

here here

here here


"AA of the seventies was a fellowship."
I can't say about the seventies but I was a GSR in the early eighties which put me in contact with reps from half a state regularly and AA followed the program of recovery outlined in "Alcoholics Anonymous". Members of the social clubs that you talk about likely weren't interested in AA's service structure and weren't there to learn about it.

I'm sure that there are those who can keep from drinking merely leaning on those who have invested the effort needed for recovery. Does the word "Fellowship" even sound like any thing therapeutic, permanent or portable? I didn't spend the last thirty years tethered to meetings like a diabetic to insulin. I joined those first hundred who recovered and wrote a book about it. I know many others who did too. After busy, successful lives and careers we have some time to return to AA, share what we have and enjoy doing it.

Please stop trying to pass off some niche you claimed to have found as a way to recover. Two hundred a day are being killed by alcoholism and likely double that being imprisoned daily in the US alone.

RE: fellowship

I do not claim to have found some niche as a way of
recovery. That method was discovered by Bill W. when
he was compelled to use the technique when he (Bill W.)
searched out another alcoholic. The other alcoholic was
Dr. Bob. It was a simple idea of carrying (transferring) sobriety to other alcoholic. It was a
process which rarely fails, when the path is followed
thoroughly. Stop prodding or pushing new prospects.
Stop preaching. Alcoholics want to get well but you are
pushing them away by all the God talk. Leave HIW for
the prospect to eventually find when the time is right.
It has to do with Attraction not promotion, principles
before personalities.
One of our noted pioneers Bernard included a
definition of fellowship delivered by Canon.
You can find it on page 276 in AACA. ANONYMOUS

I thought AA was a fellowship

AA is a Fellowship as it states in the Preamble. The Program is offered as a solution but not the only solution. Our group is diverse when it comes to what people do to stay sober. In my first decade of recovery, I wasn’t always tolerant of others but, after much embarrassment and failure trying to convert members to my way of getting sober, I decided to keep quiet. I had to accept the fact I was a program bully. I had to lower my ego enough to listen to others when they shared their experience, strength, and hope and not criticize them if they didn’t talk like me. There was a happiness and joy in the rooms that escaped me. I was dead inside because I spent too much time defending the surface. When someone’s recovery didn’t look like mine I felt threatened and this is because I was insecure about my own program. By looking beyond the surface I was able to see the beauty and wisdom underneath it, which comes when people try to escape the ruins to seek respectability and dignity. These are two qualities I cannot take away from any member. Today, I don’t talk much. I listen especially to those who aren’t stuck repeating the party-line because believe I know all about that.

RE: I thought...

I don't talk much at meetings. Meeting time is limited.
Most meetings are only an hour. I personally prefer the
hour and a half meetings. It seems a lot of energy is spent
making the coffee and setting up, and then we rush out
for various reasons.
If a meeting is 60 minutes and there are twelve members
present, I feel I should limit my sharing to five minutes,
allowing every member a chance to share, if they choose to.
If one member is sharing, eleven members ought be
listening. But please do not ask me to raise my hand to
ask permission to share. I always have a "desire to share"
but I detest raising my hand as though I am still in sixth
grade. Simple solution: Round Robin. Go around the room.
Listening has an ingredient more precious than gold.
It is a means of reducing my own EGO. And listening to
others without comment, or any kind of critiquing or
criticism is a way of showing love and tolerance. Bob H

RE: fellowship?

Two hundred a day are dying from alcoholism. Four hundred
imprisoned daily in the US. I believe those numbers are
reasonably accurate. Alcoholics are dying and their families
are suffering while we debate whether we are a fellowship
or a Fellowship. We have a method to recovery for any alcoholic who has a desire to get well. Dr. Silkworth and
Bill W. left us a simple method which rarely fails. This
method has nothing to do with cramming the steps down
anyone's throat.
Today's "Two Million Strong" are the product of the
Fellowship and working a TWELVE STEP PROGRAM. The other
eight million have been pushed away by the "TWO MILLION".
The doors which were open in the 1970's have been closed.
Rigidity has taken its toll. I was one of those who
helped close the doors. Today I am trying to reopen
them, but I am afraid that they are nailed shut. It may
indeed be too late.
Attraction not promotion, principles before personalities, humility and equality. These are difficult
for today's prideful members to comprehend.
My eyes were opened when I finally understood why Bill
W. and his friends rejected the 24 hour book when it was
offered to AA. That gave me the background to understand
why reading HIW aloud at meetings has been so harmful.
Our membership doubled about every ten years until
1992, reaching almost two and a half million members.
Two decades later we ought to have at least ten million
sober members in AA. We made some tragic mistakes in the
1980s decade. There are few members left who know what
those mistakes were. I suspect that most just gave up
and walked away.
I got sober in the seventies. I've got mine. But I
have a special interest in the future of AA. Bill W.
wrote that nothing could be so unfortunate for AA's future, as for us to become a religion. We have done just that.

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